Washington Convention Center officials have canceled an all-day "Multicultural Gala" scheduled for today that included a concert by a popular music group, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, but the event's organizer said she will not refund ticket money.
Convention Center officials said they have ordered increased security for the time when many of the young ticket buyers are expected to arrive for the now-canceled concert. It is unclear how many tickets were sold at $2.50 for children and $5 for adults.
Alan Grip, the Convention Center's assistant general manager, said center officials canceled the event after the organizer failed to provide proof that she had secured insurance or security. Grip said center officials notified the event's organizer, businesswoman Edna Doggett, of the cancellation on March 21.
"We're concerned from a security standpoint," Grip said. "We have no idea how many tickets she's sold."
"We're expecting thousands of people down there," said Doggett, who lives at 740 Sixth St. SW. She said that even without a show, money raised would go to the intended recipient, the D.C. public schools.
Doggett, a representative of a local company that wants to grow corn in Nigeria and a mother with children in D.C. public schools, said she organized the event after she became concerned that students lacked adequate computers and other learning materials.
Doggett said she, her children and some friends formed an ad-hoc committee. Flyers distributed around the city listed appearances by 15 groups, including a Japanese Fashion Show and a West African dance troupe.
Doggett said she delivered hundreds of tickets to some city public schools for sale. School administration officials could not be reached, but two school board members said the event did not have the formal endorsement of school officials.
Grip said Doggett repeatedly missed deadlines for making arrangements to rent space at the Convention Center and failed to provide a required $6,000 deposit or documents showing she had made arrangements for liability insurance and security, he said.
"Yes, we were late" planning the event, Doggett said. "But we told them all along this was different, this was being done by kids."
Center officials require "very rigid" compliance with rules, Grip said, because of the complications involving large events, especially those with musical groups.
Doggett said that confusion about the arrangements stemmed in part from delays by an insurance company and because one person helping her failed to follow through on some details.
Asked whether she would refund money, Doggett said, "Why should we? These kids have worked very hard to make this come about."